John Bilsborough

Commissioned by the BBC World Service to celebrate the
entry of television cameras into the House of Lords, 1985

His Lordship, with the wife and hounds,
was strolling round the mansion grounds.
A man of habit and tradition-
'A man,' he'd say, 'in my position,
can do no more than sit and wait.
Ambition's not a family trait,
but, oh, look there, me folly, Mollie,
overgrown with holly... Golly!
Look, me crinkle-crankle's cracked...
Tell Bates the under-gardener's sacked!'

' Too late, my dear, too late... they've gone.
We can't afford to keep them on.
I've sold the Rembrandt to some sheiks -
Well, you haven't looked at it for weeks...
and what's that place we never went?
Well, anyway, I've sold it...Kent?
  It's time you got a job, old fruit.
You can ask my maid to press your suit.
The House of Lords has jobs to spare.
I'm sure you'll pick up something there.

I do not think you wear a sword...
And so it was: 'This way, my Lord...
A seat, my Lord?' And what is this?
A scene of soporific bliss -
from hordes of Lords and tiers of peers,
contented grunts and odd 'hear-hear's
He settled back to contemplate
the wisdom of the Lords' debate.
In less that twenty seconds flat,
he fell asleep, and that was that.

It chanced the seat that was beside
the one our hero occupied
contained one of that curious breed
of Men Determined To Succeed.
And so it was, whene'er he spoke,
or raised a point, or cracked a joke,
or called for care, or voiced a doubt,
the t.v. cameras picked him out,
and showed, of course, (how could they not?)
our sleeping beauty, in each shot.
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